Lost in the Beehive

Written by Michele Young-Stone
Review by Jo Ann Butler

It’s 1965 when Gloria Ricci reluctantly enters the Belmont Institute. When her mother tries to reassure the teen, “They’re going to make you like everybody else,” Gloria wonders if it’s really wrong to fall in love with another girl. When their affair was discovered, Isabel dumped her, assuring Gloria that it was nothing but a fling. All Gloria feels is loss, but the Institute’s staff say she is mentally ill.

She’s not allowed to call home or speak to the other patients, apart from supervised events. They are boys and girls like Gloria: incarcerated “sexual perverts” to be cured by prayer and harsh counseling. Alphabetically assigned, she waits in line by Sheffield Schoeffler, an irreverent New Yorker. Before long, they are planning to run away to Greenwich Village.

Michele Young-Stone’s Lost in the Beehive is a tender, desperate portrait of teens branded as defective in the most critical aspect of their identities, and during the most critical years of their lives. Though she is buffeted by love and loss—and haunted by bees—Gloria doggedly chases acceptance and a sense of family. She’s a believable character that adults and YA readers will cheer for and mourn with, and I recommend that you give Lost in the Beehive a try.